After years of planning, the exciting development of 245 East Capitol, the former Federal Courthouse, is ready for the public. Come to the Team Jackson meeting to tour and learn more on the planned transformation of this incredible space. The meeting will be led by some of the development team making the transformation happen.
90 people packed the Penguin Restaurant, located just off the campus of Jackson State University, for the July 16 edition of Team Jackson. Chair Ben Allen called the meeting to order at 11:45, and Voice of Calvary Executive Director and Reverend Phil Reed presented the invocation. Chair elect Beau Whittington then honored the owner of the Penguin Restaurant, John Hardy (many know John from his days as General Manager of The University Club) with the “Community Spotlight”, illuminating in a humorous but respectful and thoughtful presentation of John’s life, and his history. Mr. Hardy then welcomed all to his restaurant, and to the campus of Jackson State University.
A delicious 3 course lunch was served at noon, and the “Community Shoutout” was delivered by Dr. Kim Hilliard, honoring Mr. Nate Blount, owner of south Jackson’s “Country Fisherman Restaurant”. Mr. Blount told the group of his beginnings and the history of his iconic restaurant, which was originally founded in Prentiss, Mississippi. It was quite an impressive story.
Next on the agenda Dr. Hilliard and Jason Brookins from JSU gave a preview and overview of all going on at Jackson State University. Discussions of the fully leased University Place, JSU’s domed stadium project, and a very interesting presentation on facts regarding the present and future of Mississippi’s urban university took place. This presentation segued into Roy Decker’s (of Duvall Decker Architects) presentation of the “Master Plan” for west Jackson.
Roy gave the demographics, growth concerns, strengths and issues regarding the ambitious plan to transform west Jackson, much like his firm has accomplished in Midtown, with the partnership of the Midtown Partners. All left the meeting inspired and intrigued by all that is going on at JSU and the hope for the future of west Jackson.
The meeting was concluded with a few comments from Ben Allen, and adjourned at 1:00.
At 11:50am, Ben Allen, Chairman of Team Jackson, welcomed the group of 74 people.
Allen introduced Primus Wheeler, Executive Director of the Jackson Medical Mall, who gave the invocation.
Marika Cackett, Co-Chair of the News Committee, gave a report on tourism in the City of Jackson. Cackett reminded the group of the new Jackson Rhythm and Blues Festival scheduled for August 16-17 at the Mississippi Agriculture & Forestry Museum. A pre-festival concert featuring Buddy Guy will be held at the Mississippi Coliseum on July 19th. Cackett implored everyone to attend these events.
Bob Wilson, member of the Events Committee, presented the Livable Communities Summit to the group. The summit is a two day event that will focus on placemaking, bike trails, downtown development, way finding, water features and more. Team Jackson is partnering with the Greater Jackson Chamber to produce the summit on October 1-2, and we urge all Team Jackson members to attend the event.
Allen then discussed upcoming projects within the City. The Mississippi Valley Title Building has been sold, and a possible Westin Hotel could be developed on the site. The District at Eastover, a mixed-use development of residential, office, retail/restaurants, has been announced, and it is being considered as the program for a future Team Jackson meeting.
Beau Whittington, Vice-Chair of Team Jackson, introduced Senator David Blount as the Spotlight of the meeting. Senator Blount discussed the recent legislative session. He explained his recent endeavors to design more economically efficient leasing practices for state agencies and the unsuccessful attempt to locate the Department of Revenue to Downtown Jackson.
Allen then introduced John Dinkins, Board Member of LeFleur East Foundation. Dinkins explained the organization is a nonprofit formed to improve the quality of life in northeast Jackson and discussed some of the projects LeFleur East is working on. LeFleur East is working on improving the entranceways into the City of Jackson and is currently working on beautifying the Meadowbrook Road entrance into the city. Dinkins invited everyone to participate in Flash Dash which is a 5K run held in the evening on June 21st that will take runners through the neighborhoods of northeast Jackson.
David Pharr, Co-Chair of the Programs Committee, introduced Whole Foods’ Marketing Coordinator Emily Shively and talked about the excitement building within the community towards the opening of the grocery store.
Emily Shively thanked everyone for attending and expressed how happy Whole Foods Market was to be joining the community. Shively recounted the history of the company. The first Whole Foods Market opened in Austin, TX, in 1980 as a small natural foods grocery, and some of the company’s core values include selling the highest quality natural and organic products, supporting team member excellence and happiness, and caring about our communities and our environment.
Shively stressed how Whole Foods integrates into the community and provides sponsorships, whether in-kind, financial or through volunteers from team members. Area schools have already been awarded School Garden Grants in order to teach children the benefits of growing a garden. The store in Highland Village will include a community meeting room where nonprofits can meet and hold workshops.
Allen thanked everyone for attending and reminding the group that the next meeting would be held in July. The meeting adjourned for lunch at 12:45pm.